Russia’s Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov, reiterated Moscow’s position on March 14 and said that Russia was ready to lift visa rules for Georgian citizens in case of repealing by Tbilisi its law on occupied territories.
“When he [President Saakashvili] announced that all Russian citizens could travel to Georgia without visa, he forgot to mention that a law ‘on occupied territories’ is in force in Georgia according to which anyone who has visited South Ossetia or Abkhazia since [the 2008 August] war, which was launched by Saakashvili, will face criminal liability in Georgia with jail term from two to four years,” RIA Novosti news agency reported, quoting Lavrov as saying while addressing Russian lawmakers in the lower house of Parliament.
He said that two Russian citizens had already been targeted under this legislation in Georgia.
One of the provisions in the law on occupied territories makes it illegal in Georgia to enter into breakaway Abkhazia and South Ossetia from territories other than those controlled by Tbilisi; the law also sets whole set of exceptions to this rule. Violation of the law can result into a fine or a jail term from two to four years.
Lavrov also said that Moscow responded to Tbilisi’s unilateral lift of visa rules by offering Georgia to resolve visa-related issue through “reciprocal basis, but at first let this law be revoked.”
He also said that Moscow proposal to Tbilisi about restoration of diplomatic ties was also made in the context of visa-related issues.